photographic project by VIRGINIA RYAN
and text by Professor STEVEN FELD

Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 6:30PM

St.Stephen’s Cultural Center Foundation
Via Aventina, 3- St.Stephen’s School, Auditorium- presentation
Via Aventina, 7- vernissage photography exhibit

photography exhibit
Thursday, May 31 -Friday, June 1 10AM-7PM
Saturday, June 2 - Sunday, June 3 11AM-1PM / 4-8PM

"EXPOSURES: A WHITE WOMAN IN WEST AFRICA” is a photographic project by visual artist Virginia Ryan. The 60 images of herself in diverse domestic, private, and public situations were taken by African and non-African acquaintances and passersby between 2001 and 2005, when Ryan lived and worked as an artist and member of a diplomatic mission in Ghana.

To situate the images in a dialogue of art and anthropology, Ryan invited anthropologist Steven Feld to write a text about whiteness and photographic realism to accompany the photographs. Feld’s text focuses on the complex and highly charged questions raised by these provocative and often unsettling pictures:

“Each image unleashes immediate questions about what might be going on in the frame, both socially and visually. What social dramas are on display about race, power, and gender? About masks, ritual, and ceremony? About bodily adornment, clothing and appearance? About social interaction in public? About skin, gesture, and movement? Simultaneously, what photographic dramas are viewers witnessing? Images of people caught unaware? Images more deliberately posed but made to look off-the-cuff? What complicities unite those exposed and those behind the camera? In all: what kinds of performances are presented in these photographic juxtapositions of Virginia Ryan with strangers and intimates, innocents and collaborators? Does their viewing allow one to gaze through the transparency of racial difference? Does their viewing make one feel trapped in, or liberated from, the banalities of political correctness and transcendental universal humanism?”

Virginia Ryan
Virginia Ryan is an Italy-based internationally exhibited artist who has lived and worked over the last 25 years in Australia, Egypt, Scotland, ex-Yugoslavia, Brazil, and Ghana. Trained at the Australian National School of the Arts, where she also taught photography, she also holds a graduate degree in art therapy from Edinburgh University. She has exhibited in numerous solo shows and over 100 group shows in USA, Europe, Australia, South America, and Africa. A sample of her photographic, painting, sculptural and mixed media work, and bibliography of catalogues is at
During her 4 and one half years in Accra, Ghana, she founded and co-directed the Foundation for Contemporary Art, in support of African artists. Publications of her collaborative work and in support of Ghanaian artists include Landing in Accra (Preferencze Avanzate, 2002) and Almighty God and the Apostles of Accra (Parise Adriano, 2003).
She is also the author of two memoirs, Where the Cypress Rises: An Australian Artist in Umbria, ( Lothian Books, 2000), and Strangers in Accra, and Other Stories (Afram Books, 2004).

Steven Feld
Steven Feld is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Music at the University of New Mexico, and Professor of World Music at the Grieg Academy of Music, University of Bergen, Norway. His honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship 1991-1996,. fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1994, and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship in 2003-2004.
His books include Sound and Sentiment (1982/1990, U. Pennsylvania Press; J.I. Staley Prize, 1991); Music Grooves (with Charles Keil, 1994, U. Chicago Press; Chicago Folklore Prize, 1995); Senses of Place (edited with Keith Basso, 1996, SAR Press); Bosavi-English-Tok Pisin Dictionary (with Bambi Schieffelin, 1998, ANU Press); Jean Rouch: Ciné-Ethnography (editor/translator, 2003, U. Minnesota Press).
His CD recordings include Voices of the Rainforest (1991, Rykodisc); Rainforest Soundwalks (2001, EarthEar); Bosavi: Rainforest Music from Papua New Guinea (2001, Smithsonian Folkways); Bells and Winter Festivals of Greek Macedonia (2002, Smithsonian Folkways); and the first CDs on his VoxLox label, Iraqi Music in A Time of War: Rahim AlHaj in New York (2003, VoxLox), and The Time of Bells volumes 1 and 2 (2004, VoxLox),